Mediated Negotiations is a process that may suit parties that anticipate fractious and heated negotiations. It takes the best part of each type of dispute resolution method and employs them on an “as-needed” basis.
There can be a self-fulfilling prophecy in contentious negotiations where each side expects to receive a hard time from the other. In an attempt to gain advantage either side decides to “Go in hard”. The other party, anticipating such an opening launches its counter-offensive and, if successful, either neutralises or pushes their own agenda through. Deadlock is often reached where no further movement is likely until outside factors or a period of cooling-off takes place.
There is another way. A mediator with negotiation experience and training can put the parties on the right track by opening proceedings in a collaborative manner. After this session, which usually lasts an hour, the mediator can be present while the parties go off to negotiate in private. Should the process require it, particularly contentious issues can be problem-solved with the mediator. This can be done in group sessions, lead negotiators or via designated representatives while the main parties continue with other matters.